The Ten Commandments of Ethical Social Media Posting

Ten tips on how to make effective social media posts without offending or alienating your audience

Social Media Ten Commandments image by Kues (via Shutterstock).
Think Before You Link Or Before You Post: one ill-thought out post could be ruinous to your professional or personal reputation. Image by Kues (via Shutterstock).

You may have come across this familiar phrase in your time. The author of this piece most certainly has: “Engage Brain Before Putting Mouth into Gear”. One of his ex-teachers had the sign above the chalkboard. He would have said to any pupil (about to put his or her foot in it): “Read the sign, Boy (or Girl).” Imagine if Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, et al had this sign at the top of their pages. There could be fewer libellous tweets or salacious memes. There’s no way that any social media related sites from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe would do this. There would be cries of ‘censorship’ from Aberdeen to Zennor.

With this being Net Sixty Six SEO’s first blog post of 2017, this is one of these New Year’s Resolutions type of posts. Though one a tad too late for us to say “Happy New Year”. For want for a New Year’s Resolution, this could be filed under “I shall be more tactful with my social media posts”.

We have all been guilty of it at a professional or personal level. One status update could be misconstrued by another party. Or, he or she may be fed up of the status update that reads, “Person A has given you an extra life on Candy Busters Farm Saga”.

Why does this matter? Increasingly, employers have visited social media sites to check up on potential candidates for future positions within their company. Your footprint on social networking sites could make or break your personal or professional reputation. This has inspired our very own cut-out-and-keep guide to tactful posting on social networking sites.

The Ten Commandments of Using Social Networking Sites

1. Thou Shalt Realise That Anything You Put Out On The Internet Could Be Seen Publicly

You’ve heard of the phrase “washing your dirty linen in public”. Unless you change the privacy settings (i.e. Friends or Only Me on Facebook) on your favoured social networking site(s), anything you post can be seen publicly. Once the Investigatory Powers Bill is granted Royal Assent, HM Government will be keeping a record of all internet transactions in the UK made per person or device for a year. Tread carefully.

2. Thou Shalt Check Thy Sources Before Posting

The most important form of social media etiquette of all, bar none. If you’re sharing a news story that is trending, check more than one site and that (most importantly), it is bang up to date.

3. Thou Shalt, Prior To Sharing A Post From Your Friend Or Colleague, Read The Post Beforehand

We’ve all been guilty of this. Sometimes the original source of the shared post could come from questionable sources. For example, any sources that endorse extremist views on given subject areas or political leanings (Also refer to Rule 2).

4. Thou Shalt Not Use Social Networking Sites To Publicly Undermine A Competing Business Or Individual

Keep any salacious opinions you have over certain businesses or people off the internet. As well as being polite, slagging off your rivals does not make for good business practice. Some of these could be future clients.

5. Thou Shalt Not Steal Content Off A Rival Website Or Social Media Page Without Prior Permission

If you wish to post images on your favoured social networking sites, either use your own or subscribe to an image library like Shutterstock. Where possible, credit the source of your image.

6. Thou Shalt Honour Thy Terms And Conditions

They are long, they are boring, but they are important.

7. Thou Shalt Not Post Too Frequently

Please keep in mind that posting too often could get Mr or Mrs Facebook and Co thinking you’re a spammer.

8. Thou Shalt Be Conversant With The Security Settings

If you wish to share some of your posts with a certain set of followers, master the privacy setting on your desired social networking sites. For example, ‘Only Me’ on Facebook means only you can see the posts.

9. Thou Shalt Remember The Importance Of Context

You wouldn’t say Merry Christmas in the middle of July. Nor share a YouTube clip of a song which could be insensitive to, say a bereaved family member.

10. Thou Shalt Not Use Foul Language

If you’re on a social media site and posting publicly, imagine you’re talking to your mother. In other words, be polite and show the same level of respect (and refrain from using foul and abusive language).

Net SixtySix SEO, 12 January 2017.